Category: Lawn & Garden

Quick Tip: This Simple Trick Helps Plants Water Themselves

DIY Self-Watering Panter

Photo: via kriste3582

There are lots of household chores to take care of before going on a vacation: board the dog, clean the fridge, empty the trash, and so on. Yet another must, at least during the gardening months, is asking a friend or family member to water your plants—there’s nothing more discouraging than nurturing blooms all season long just to have them wither while you’re away. But now, with this DIY self-watering system, you can cross that one off your to-do list. Sound complicated? Not in the least. All it takes is a capped bottle and some good old-fashioned H20.

DIY Self-Water Planter - Terra Cotta Container


Before you can begin, you’ll need to saturate the soil in all of your planters. Next, gather your bottles: You can use virtually any bottle with a cap, keeping in mind that 8- to 12-ounce bottles work well for smaller-size pots, while a wine bottle will better quench the thirst of larger planters. Make a small hole in the cap or cork by hammering a nail all the way through. Fill your bottle to the top with water and place the cap back on. Then flip the bottle upside down and bury it about two inches into the soil. As the soil dries out from your last watering, fluid will slowly drip from the bottle into your soil, ensuring that your plant receives just the moisture it needs to thrive.

A standard-size bottle should last about three days in a small- to medium-size planter, but if your trip is a bit lengthier, consider adding a second bottle on the opposite side. Once the system is in place, all that’s left to do is enjoy your time jet-setting!

Bob Vila Radio: What Is a Rain Garden?

Expressly designed to capture rain before it enters the local sewer system, rain gardens are a smart, attractive, and environmentally responsible means of managing stormwater runoff.

Rain gardens are essentially natural or man-made depressions on the property, which the homeowner fills with a variety of hardy plants that don’t need a lot of painstaking care.

What Is a Rain Garden?


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Not only does a rain garden add an extra layer of visual interest to the landscape, but it also helps the environment. Instead of rainwater gushing down storm drains and flowing, unfiltered, into nearby lakes and streams, rain gardens collect the run-off from roofs, driveways, and walkways, slowly absorbing and naturally filtering the water through the roots and soil.

Most rain gardens include gravel to aid in the absorption process. And since they’re more tolerant to local soil and moisture conditions, native plants are normally chosen. For help selecting suitable plants, ask around at your garden supply store or extension office.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Do Less Yard Work with 4 Smart Strategies

Gardens can do great things for your outdoor decor, but the general upkeep can be tedious. Try these tricks to make time spent tending your favorite florals easier and more efficient.

How to Garden


Whether it’s the colorful buds that line your front walkway or the blooming beds out back, incorporating a lush garden into your landscape can pay off in spades. While time spent sowing seeds is well worth the effort, it tends to be more enjoyable when you can minimize the hours stuck toiling in the hot sun. Try these four strategies to help eliminate gardening growing pains and make your outdoor experiences that much more rewarding.

How to Garden - Water Efficiently


1. Choose Plants Wisely
You’ll want to start by researching plant varieties that are in line with your USDA hardiness zone, as well as species that are disease-resistant. If flowers that require little upkeep are more your speed, consider annuals like lobelia, impatiens, or fibrous begonias, that continue to bloom without requiring constant deadheading.

Also, beware of “fertile myrtles,” annuals like calendulas or cleome that reseed if you don’t get rid of the spent blooms come fall. If you’re interested in keeping them in your garden design, let them self-sow; but if not, deadhead to stop them from taking over.

2. Plan Out Your Arrangement
Group the thirstiest plants in one spot. This will improve watering efficiency, as you can tend to these high-maintenance varieties all at once, rather than making multiple trips around the garden. Next, save yourself hours you would have spent staking and prop up floppy, more delicate plants simply by placing stiff, bulky varieties in front of them.

Lawn work is easily one of the most tedious yard tasks. Make things easier on yourself by eschewing grass on sloped areas and swapping in ground covers instead so that you don’t find yourself pushing a mower uphill. It’s also wise to pass on turf grass in areas that don’t have strong drainage solutions.

And don’t overlook the importance of convenient tool storage: Consider purchasing a decorative container that you can tote along with you while tending the garden, so that you don’t have to trek to the shed or garage every time you need something. Buy tools with brightly colored handles, as these will easily catch your eye if left behind.

3. Upgrade Your Water Routine
Investing in a timed system is well worth the cost. Soaker hoses with tiny pores that run the length of the tube are smarter than your standard hose or sprinkler, resulting in no run-off, less evaporation, and the luxury of being able to relax or complete other tasks while they go to work. Schedule the system to start in the early morning for best results.

On days you mow the lawn, leave the clippings out instead of cleaning them up. This trick doesn’t make you lazy! More than saving you extra effort, it also helps shade the grass and conserve water.

4. Eliminate Weeds
To start, plant densely and mulch freely around your flowerbeds to discourage uninvited weeds, but wage war on existing species when the soil is moist. While you can try to pull the weeds out by the roots, another simple solution is to cut them and let them wither. If they’re joining forces to form a thick mat, use a sharp shovel to slice the ground beneath them, then flip the weeds over to bury them. This will ensure your flowers’ safety and also nourish the soil when the weeds decompose.

Bob Vila Radio: Give Your Mower a Tune-Up

It doesn't take much to keep your lawn mower in top condition, and it's well worth the effort. With proper maintenance, you can safeguard peak performance and extend the useful lifespan of your equipment.

With the summer season nearing its peak, chances are that your lawn mower would benefit from a bit of mid-season TLC.

Lawn Mower Care Tips


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Start by giving it a good rinse with your hose. To reach the underside of the deck, consider using a long-handled hose attachment. That way, you can clean the area around the blade without needing to tip the mower more than a few inches onto its side.

Also, remember that lawn mower engines live on gasoline and air. If yours came with a paper filter, check whether it’s clogged. If so, swap in a new paper filter in the appropriate size. If your mower features a foam air filter, wash it out with soapy water and, before reinstalling, give the dry foam a light coating of oil.

You may also want to change the spark plug or sharpen the blade. Now, your mower ought to be ready for the remainder of the summer’s dog days.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Genius! Make a Mini Greenhouse with Dollar-Store Photo Frames

Looking for a way to bring your limp houseplants back to life? Try this dollar-store DIY to get your greenery back in shape.

DIY Indoor Greenhouse


Sure, your indoor plants might be doing just fine on their own with your current watering schedule and carefully selected locations. But what if we told you that they could be doing better—in, say, their own custom-built greenhouse? An indoor greenhouse isn’t just for show, although it does pack plenty of style into its tiny structure. For starters, it keeps temperatures stable, boosts humidity, and increases carbon dioxide levels inside the enclosure for quicker-growing plants. Sheltering your greenery also keeps pests out and reduces the risk of disease. A simple glass box creates an optimal environment for your plants, guaranteed to take your gardening game to the next level. And with this idea from The Wicker House, making your own requires just a trip to the dollar store and a little creative repurposing. This blogger’s smart substitute for glass window panes? Emptied photo frames.

That’s right: To create her indoor garden, she picked up a total of eight picture frames and removed the backs, cardboard padding, and any prints inside them. While there are some things you probably shouldn’t ever buy at the dollar store—fresh produce, pregnancy tests, and hair gel, for instance—it turns out that it can be the perfect source for basic DIY supplies. Cheap, lightweight frames work best here so that they can be assembled with only hot glue and some duct tape. The resourceful crafter selected two 8″ x 10″ frames for the sides of the greenhouse, two 5″ x 7″ frames for the ends, and four 4″ x 6″ ones to create the slanted roof, all spray-painted white to visually unify the mismatched collection. The end result: a cheap yet chic tabletop structure that offers the consistent environment houseplants need to truly thrive. Follow The Wicker House’s full tutorial, and you may be surprised at just how quickly your plants put down roots—and settle in for the long term.

FOR MORE: The Wicker House

DIY Indoor Greenhouse - Painted Frames


Are You Spending Way Too Much to Operate Your Swimming Pool?

This summer, take a serious look at the cost of operating and maintaining your pool. You may find that a pump upgrade could provide as much relief to your wallet as your pool provides to your family's comfort and happiness.


For those who are lucky enough to own a swimming pool, this is the best time of year. But as you soak in the sun, your pool’s impact on your household budget may be more than you bargained for. The alarming fact is that if you have a conventional pool pump, you are very likely paying too much—much too much—in monthly operating costs.

Data shows that in homes with pools, the pump typically ranks only behind heating and cooling in terms of overall energy consumption. You’ve probably noticed that your energy bills rise during those months when your family enjoys the pool. What you may not have realized is that in a given year those costs add up to $460, on average. Well, that figure might make anyone consider cutting their losses, but don’t drain the pool just yet! According to ENERGY STAR, the solution is simple. Ditch the outmoded pump and replace it with a high-efficiency model. ENERGY STAR pool pumps are independently certified to save energy and money – they typically use about 70 percent less energy, saving the average household between $280 and $340 annually.

“Replacing your old pool pump with one that has earned the ENERGY STAR has obvious financial benefits for families across the country,” says ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch Chief Ann Bailey. “But it also has a big-picture impact for the environment. If all pool pumps sold in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to about $165 million each year, and three billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from nearly 280,000 vehicles.”


Why do conventional pool pumps waste so much energy? The answer is simple: They run at only one speed. That wouldn’t be a problem if pool pumps performed only one role, but standard setups put the pump in charge of multiple functions, each of which calls for a different flow rate. For instance, filtration can often be accomplished with half the flow rate needed for vacuuming. Though the different functions have different requirements, a single-speed pump would apply the same flow rate in both cases. For vacuuming, the flow rate would probably be appropriate, but for filtration, it would definitely be overkill—expensive overkill. That’s why only those pumps that run at two or more speeds earn the ENERGY STAR. With these newer and more sophisticated pumps, you can be sure that the pump always responds with just enough—but not more than enough—power to accomplish the desired function. After installing a variable-speed pool pump, you shouldn’t notice a difference in water clarity, but when you open your utility bill at the end of the month, you should notice what a big difference a little energy efficiency makes.

Even in today’s energy-conscious world, many pool contractors do not assume the homeowner wants a variable-speed pump — which cost roughly $550 more than their single-speed cousins. While it’s certainly true that high-efficiency pool pumps aren’t cheap, an ENERGY STAR-certified unit can pay for its additional upfront cost in less than two years. From that point on, for the lifespan of the product, savings go right into your pocket on average. Tom Cucinotta, owner of Cucinotta’s Pool Service in Boynton Beach, Florida, regularly installs variable-speed pumps and attests to their return on customer investment. “Here in Florida, energy costs are approximately 15 cents per kilowatt hour. If your pumps run on 1-1/2-horsepower, 10 hours a day, it’s going to cost about $1,232 a year. With a variable-speed pump cutting as much as 91 percent off that energy bill, it would cost about $125 a year. Huge savings.” Cucinotta also points out that if you have two conventional pumps, both single-speed, you can replace both with just one variable-speed unit.

Pool pump lifespans range pretty widely, as a number of variables come into play. But eventually, any pool pump must be replaced. Of course, if the unit doesn’t start, that’s obviously a problem—but there are much subtler signs that you need a new pool pump. For instance, if the unit hums, buzzes, or otherwise makes a racket, repair or replacement may be in order. You might also notice the pump starting slowly and operating at low power. Another bad sign is for the pump to get hot and shut down. In any of these situations, the time might be right for an upgrade to a variable-speed, ENERGY STAR-certified pump. Your local home center or pool supply store probably stocks a range of efficient options from leading manufacturers Pentair, Hayward, and Jandy. In stores and online, you can also find models made by Blue Torrent Pool Products, Speck Pumps, and Waterway. No matter your chosen product, it’s well worth mentioning that if you install a high-efficiency pump, you may be eligible for state or local utility rebates. To view the available incentives, check out the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder.

In Cucinotta’s experience, “a variable-speed pump saves money every time,” but he points out that there are indeed additional ways to minimize pool maintenance and operation costs. A pool cover, for instance, helps reduce nighttime heat loss, which would mean lower costs if you run a pool heater. Meanwhile, keeping the intake grates and drains clear of debris also goes a long way toward benefiting overall system performance. But if your monthly pool costs really seem to have spun out of control, don’t hesitate to investigate the cause or causes. “I urge homeowners to do an energy audit on their pool,” says Cucinotta. Since upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified pump may already require a visit from a pool specialist, consider inviting yours to suggest additional tweaks to your system—a different filter perhaps, or a programmable pump timer. But,in the end, replacing a single-speed pump is likely to make the biggest difference of all. As Cucinotta sums up, “Many people with older pool pumps are just tossing money away.” Want more information? Visit ENERGY STAR today.


This post has been brought to you by ENERGY STAR. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: The Easiest Way to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs

Compared to other, more demanding fertilizer applications, fertilizer spikes offer a quick and easy, no-hassle method of providing trees and shrubs with the nutrients they need to thrive. Here's what you need to know.

Looking to give your trees and shrubs a nutritional boost? If so, consider fertilizer spikes. Filled with vital nutrients, these solid, spike-shaped plugs are hammered into the ground, supplying gradual-release feeding for up to several months.

Fertilizer Spikes


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You’ll find many different fertilizer spikes on the shelves of your local home center. While some are general purpose, others are formulated to benefit a specific variety, be it fruit trees, deciduous trees, evergreens, palms or even vegetables.

It’s usually best to place fertilizer spikes when the ground is moist and soft, typically during spring and fall. In colder weather, when the soil is dry and hard, water the ground thoroughly to make the going a little easier.

Note that fertilizer spikes come with a special plastic cap. Place the cap over the top of a spike to make sure that it remains intact as you hammer it into the ground, usually to a point just below the surface.

Generally speaking, fertilizer spikes are positioned in a circle around the tree or shrub, at a remove of several feet from its trunk or main stems, respectively. For instructions specific to your chosen fertilizer spikes, see their packaging or included manual.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

DIY Kids: Make a Garden Stepping Stone

Make and decorate stepping stones with the whole family for a garden accessory that's extra personal. Craft enough of them, and you can build yourself—quite literally—memory lane!

DIY Stepping Stones - Craft with Kids


Whether you’re looking for a way to personalize the lawn and garden with mementos from the kids or you’re on the hunt for memorable presents for the grandparents, look no further than a bag of cement mix. Seriously! You probably have most of the other materials on hand at home already to make these stone- and seashell-dappled stepping stones. Gather the whole family for this craft: These custom pavers are fun for all ages, and easy enough to make and decorate in a weekend. The more the merrier—and the more stones for your new walkway!


This project is good for children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. For kids under 3, mix the cement by yourself and let them do the decorating. My 5-year-old was capable of pouring water into the mix and spreading the cement. Kids ages 10 and up can help mix, and may be able to complete the whole project themselves with supervision.

- Plastic tarp
- Large board (optional)
- Pizza box
- Duct tape
- Hardware cloth or chicken wire (optional)
- Scissors
- Plastic garbage bag
- Eye protection
- Dust mask
- Gloves
- Quick-setting cement
- Water
- 5-gallon bucket
- Trowel
- Embellishments (sea shells, marbles, etc.)



DIY Stepping Stones - Materials


Set up shop in a well-ventilated area, and protect the floors with a tarp, drop cloth, or old sheet. If you have it, lay out a board that’s larger than the pizza box to serve as your work surface—it’ll make lifting the project much simpler later on when the box is filled with cement.



DIY Stepping Stones - Step 1


Cut the top cover off the pizza box, and restructure the bottom half so that any tabs or flaps folded along the inside of the box move to the outside. When you’re finished, the inside of your mold should be completely smooth. Wrap the sides with duct tape for added support.

If you’d like to use hardware cloth or chicken wire as a reinforcement, cut a piece of the material an inch or so smaller than your pizza box and set it aside for when it’s time to drop it into the mixed cement. Using wire mesh as reinforcement will help strengthen the stone so that it’s less likely to crack down the road, but it’s not absolutely necessary.



DIY Stepping Stones - Step 2


Cut a black garbage bag down the sides and open it up. Then, cut it in half to make a liner for your cardboard mold. Lay the liner into the pizza box, and smooth it out across the bottom and up the sides.



DIY Stepping Stones - Step 3


First, have everybody put on dust masks, eye protection, and gloves. Cement mix is very dusty, and you really don’t want to inhale any of it or get it in your eyes.

Then, pour a quarter of an 80-pound bag of quick-setting cement mix into a 5-gallon bucket. Pour in 2 cups of water, and mix with a garden trowel. You’ll want to get the mixture to the consistency of something like banana bread batter: thick, but still easily spreadable. Add more cement mix if the batch is too liquid, or more water if it’s too dry—a little at a time until you reach the right consistency. Once the cement is mixed, pour it into the pizza box until it’s half full, and spread it to the edges. Jiggle the box (via the board, if you used one) to help the mix settle and get the air bubbles out.



DIY Stepping Stones - Step 4


If you’re using it, place your hardware cloth or chicken wire reinforcement onto the cement and squish it into the mix. Jiggle the box a little more to work out bubbles. Then, mix another batch of cement (exactly as in Step 4) to pour on top and complete the stone. Again, spread it evenly corner to corner, and work the bubbles out by jiggling the box.



DIY Stepping Stone - Step 5


Now for the fun part! You can remove your dust mask and eye protection, and just leave on the gloves. Lightly press shells, rocks, marbles, or any other embellishments you’d like into the setting cement. Since we live by the beach, we used shells and stones, but the decorative elements can be whatever treasures you’ve collected lately.



DIY Stepping Stones - Completed Project


Let the stepping stone sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours to let it cure. Then, carefully turn the stone over and remove the box from the bottom of the stepping stone. Peel the garbage bag liner off and voilà! It will be hard for the kids to wait, but it’s best to let the stepping stone cure outside the box for another 24 hours before walking on it. After that, place your stepping stone in your garden or yard where it’s sure to get plenty of use. You’ll have good memories of the fun you had working together every time you set foot on it.

DIY Lite: A Wooden Bench That Anyone Can Build

Start this brag-worthy backyard bench one afternoon, and you'll be sitting on it roasting marshmallows before sunset. Trust us: This DIY is so simple, even a beginning woodworker can tackle it!

DIY Outdoor Bench - Backyard View

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

As summer approaches, the growing number of sunny hours each day means that we have more time to spend out in the yard. Outdoor attractions abound: coffee on the porch at sunrise, afternoons filled with family barbecues and backyard games, and long evenings around the fire pit roasting s’mores. But to enjoy any of these pastimes, you’ll need ample outdoor seating. Rather than buying a few flimsy chairs from the nearest big-box store, consider crafting additional seats on your own. All it takes is some lumber and basic woodworking knowledge—don’t worry, we’ll guide you through—and you’ll get bragging rights for seasons to come whenever someone compliments your sturdy bench.


DIY Outdoor Bench - Tools and Materials

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- 20 feet of 2″ x 2″ lumber (purchased in 10-foot pieces)
- 16 feet of 1″ x 2″ lumber (purchased in 8-foot pieces)
- 16 feet of 1″ x 3 7⁄8″ lumber (purchased in 8-foot pieces)
- 8 feet of 1″ x 6″ lumber (purchased as an 8-foot piece)
- Handsaw
- Wood glue
- 24 2 1/2-inch screws
- 24 1-inch screws
- 4 5″ x 5″ metal brackets
- Drill
- 1 1/2-inch nails
- Hammer
- Sandpaper
- Three colors of wood stain
- Brush
- Varnish



DIY Outdoor Bench - Lumber Cuts

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Round up your lumber, then start by cutting the two 10-foot pieces of 2″ x 2″ lumber into shorter lengths that you will use to build the bench’s structure. Optimize your cuts by sawing each 10-foot length into six pieces: one 39-inch length, two 15-inch lengths, and three 11-inch lengths.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Seat

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To make the bench seat, lay the two 39-inch pieces out horizontally and put the four 11-inch lengths into place perpendicularly—one inside either end and two evenly spaced out in the middle. There should be approximately 10 2/3 inches between each crosspiece.

Starting with the bottom right corner, apply wood glue to the ends you’re bringing together. Then, use two 2 1/2-inch screws to connect the pieces at each meeting point. Tip: To make the screwing easier, use a drill with a thin bit.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Complete Seat Frame

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Continue to glue and then screw in the four 11-inch pieces along the bottom 39-inch length, following the directions in Step 3. Repeat to attach them to the opposite length. As you screw each piece into place, check that you’re keeping the structure relatively straight.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Begin Legs

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Set this piece—the bench seat frame—aside while you work on the frames for the two bench legs. For each, you’ll need two 15-inch lengths of wood and one 11-inch piece to connect them at the bottom. Assemble the pieces with glue and two screws at each joint (as you did in Step 3) to form two U-shaped frames.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Continue Legs

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, attach the legs to the bench seat frame using the four brackets. Place each leg so that the open side of the U shape connects to an end of the seat frame. Place a bracket at each corner where the 39-inch side of the bench seat meets the 15-inch leg frame, and use 1-inch screws to attach.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Rough Frame

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Congratulations! The bench structure is finished. Flip it over so it’s standing, and admire your handiwork for a few minutes before starting on the cover. To create the rustic design shown above, cut the all the rest of your lumber into 15-inch-long slats, which will yield 12 pieces of 1″ x 2″, 12 pieces of 1″ x 3 7⁄8″, and six pieces of 1″ x 6″.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Stained Parts

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand the entire bench structure and all the wooden slats, then stain them. Choose three complementary colors of wood stain to provide a more modern finish—you can pick any shades you like. We stained the structure and the 1″ x 2″ slats in Chocolate, the 1″ x 3 7⁄8″ slats in Mahogany, and the 1″ x 6″ slats in Early American.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Finishing Work

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

With three widths of slats in varying colors, you have plenty of options for creating a pattern. You can (and should) try out different sequences before nailing the slats in place.

When you find your favorite combination, glue and then nail the slats along the bench structure. (Tip: One nail at each end should be enough to secure the 2-inch-wide slats; for the rest, put a nail at each corner.) Start on the left side, work your way across the seat, and finish with the right side. Depending on your pattern of choice, you’ll probably have a few slats left over.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Slat Top

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The widths of the slats will most likely not add up exactly to the 39-inch length of the structure—and that’s OK! If that happens, just cut the last slat to fit, and restain the sawed-off end. No one will be the wiser.



DIY Outdoor Bench - Sealing Seat

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, varnish the bench. Because it’s a piece of furniture intended for the outdoors, give it at least two coats for lasting protection from the elements. Follow the directions on the can of varnish closely, especially when it comes to dry time: You don’t want to sit on your handcrafted beauty before time is up, lest you leave a seat print behind—or worse, get varnish on your clothes!

When dry time is up, we highly recommend moving your bench to the sunniest patch on your property to test it out. Bring a refreshment and some summer reading with you—you’ll surely want to stay there a while.


DIY Outdoor Bench - In Situ Completed

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila


Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

Genius! DIY a Custom, Collapsible Sunshade

No air conditioner? Don't despair! This easy-to-make DIY sunshade will help cool off your next backyard barbecue and beyond. Use it to keep comfortable all season long—without running up your electric bill.

DIY Sun Shade - Collapsible Awning


Some days, hanging out under an awning is the closest we can get to enjoying the breeze underneath a shady beach umbrella. The relief is real: That soft wind you feel in the shade can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the temperature out in direct sunlight! Well, you’ll be happy to know that squeezing some shade into your own backyard just got easier. Whether your outdoor space consists of a patch of grass around the side of the apartment or a full-fledged suburban backyard, you can craft a tented oasis, using just a single set of instructions. This DIY sunshade on Design*Sponge can be tailored to cool off nearly any space.

The premise is simple and easily convertible. Create two sturdy supports for the base of the structure by sticking dowels into two plastic buckets filled with quick-setting concrete. As the concrete hardens, you can decide how far apart you’d like to position the supports; this will determine the width of your awning and, ultimately, how much fabric you’ll need for your shade. Four tiny cup hooks—two screwed into the top of the dowels and two along a nearby exterior wall—will serve to catch grommets that you’ll add to the four corners of your shade to hold it in place. Then, whenever you’re ready to cool off outside, simply set up your two poles a few feet in front of the wall and hook the shade into position. Warning: If you dress it up just right with an eye-catching fabric, you may make your neighbors insanely jealous. For best results, mix up a margarita and camp out in your favorite folding chair for the afternoon.

FOR MORE: Design*Sponge

DIY Sunshade - Concrete Base